Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Hun Sen officially launches Kantha Bopha foundation in Cambodia

Hun Sen officially launches Kantha Bopha foundation in Cambodia

Doctors treat a patient at the main Kantha Bopha hospital in Phnom Penh in July 2017. Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday officially launched the Kantha Bopha Foundation in Cambodia.
Doctors treat a patient at the main Kantha Bopha hospital in Phnom Penh in July 2017. Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday officially launched the Kantha Bopha Foundation in Cambodia. Sahiba Chawdhary

Hun Sen officially launches Kantha Bopha foundation in Cambodia

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday announced the creation of a foundation to raise money to support the country’s five Kantha Bopha children’s hospitals in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.

Hun Sen also said tycoon Kith Meng had donated property valued at $8 million that a Kantha Bopha official said the hospital group previously rented for an administrative office.

The Kantha Bopha Foundation in Cambodia was created amid concerns that donations from Switzerland, which has supported the hospitals, could dwindle with the absence of the hospitals’ founder, Dr Beat Richner, a 73-year-old Swiss-born pediatrician who stepped down in 2017 due to a serious medical condition that caused memory loss. At the time he announced his plans, the premier was criticised for not contributing a sustainable source of funding from the state coffers to the hospitals.

Hun Sen said he will personally contribute $50,000 to the foundation each year for the next five years. Additionally, he said, the government will contribute $10 million annually for the operation of the hospitals and $5 million to the foundation.

Those who contribute up to $20,000 to the new foundation in Cambodia will become founding members, while those who contribute $5,000 will become honorary members, he said. Additionally, those who contribute 5,000 riel, or about $1.25, per month, or 60,000 riel per year, will become supporting members.

Dr Denis Laurent, Kantha Bopha’s deputy director, said the foundation’s creation was a welcome move. The hospitals provide free treatment to some of the most severely ill youngsters in Cambodia, and since 1992 have served nearly 18 million children.

“It was a dream and a vision of Dr Beat Richner to have more support from the Cambodian government,” he said.

Hun Sen also announced that Kith Meng, chairman of the Royal Group, on Tuesday offered to give the land to the foundation. “We accepted this and gave the land to the foundation and the foundation will hand this land to the hospitals with the title,” he said.

“Mr Beat Richner had the intention to buy the land from Oknha Kith Meng,” he said. “But they could not buy it and the matter was raised to me. The government had thought about buying the land for the hospital, but at that time, it was a bit difficult.”

He said the rent was just $1 per square metre, but didn’t specify how often the rent was due. However, Laurent said no rent on the office building had been charged for the past 11 years.

There is already a Kantha Bopha Foundation in Zurich, Switzerland, which has raised money for years to cover the $42 million in annual costs to operate the hospitals.

“For the next mandate, if I am still the prime minister of Cambodia, I will continue leading the contributions uninterruptedly to the Kantha Bopha hospitals in order to ensure sustainability,” Hun Sen said.

San Chey, executive director of the Affiliated Network of Social Accountability, said there are concerns in the long term for the management of the foundation.

To attract donations, the foundation needs to reach out to all stakeholders, such as members of other political parties, civil society organisations, development partners and other leaders, whose involvement is needed for “charity purposes and not for political gain”, Chey said.

“We want the foundation to be more neutral.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia unveils new quarantine regulations

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian

  • Cambodia sets new Covid-19 quarantine rules

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian

  • Hun Sen: Cambodia set to fully reopen

    Prime Minister Hun Sen concludes that the October 5-7 Pchum Ben public holiday, during which many people either flocked to their hometowns for family reunion or gathered at tourist attractions across the country, has not caused an outbreak of Covid-19. In a special address to

  • Will Evergrande change the way Chinese developers do business in Cambodia?

    China’s property sector policy has exposed the grim financial condition of real estate developers including those operating in Cambodia, which raises questions over the viability of their projects and business going forward The dark blue netting draping over one of Yuetai Group Co Ltd’

  • Cambodia voted ‘world’s friendliest country’ in Rough Guides reader poll

    Cambodia ranked number one among the “World’s Friendliest Countries”, according to a reader poll conducted by London-based international website “Rough Guides”. Taking submissions through Twitter and Facebook, “Rough Guides”, a well-known travel agency and publisher of guidebooks, said the Kingdom “was by far the

  • S’ville set to turn into ‘second Shenzhen’

    The Ministry of Economy and Finance has awarded a master plan consultancy contract to top Chinese institute for the development and transformation of Preah Sihanouk province into a “Model Multi-Purpose Special Economic Zone”, Southeast Asia’s next logistics and resort hub and innovation centre. The